News from the Associated Press - April 4, 2014

Associated Press
April 4, 2014

Pa. finalizes 2014 transportation projects

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett says his administration has finalized the list of highway, bridge and mass transit improvement projects that'll begin this year as a result of the landmark transportation funding bill he signed in November.

The administration said Thursday that about 250 highway and bridge projects and 50 mass transit projects will begin in 2014 because of the law. Another 650 were scheduled already. Meanwhile, weight restrictions on 100 bridges will be removed.

Spending under the law will total about $950 million in 2014, rising to $2.3 billion in 2017, about a 40 percent increase.

The work is being financed by increases in fuel taxes and motorist fees and fines. That includes hiking the fee for a duplicate driver's license or a non-driver photo ID card from $13.50 to $27.50.


NY ethics panel: $210M spent lobbying last year

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York's ethics commission reports $210 million was spent on state and local lobbying last year.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics, in its 2013 annual report, says its enforcement cases resulted in more than $450,000 in penalties.

The report shows a record $191 million was spent last year on compensation for in-house and retained lobbyists.

Top spenders on lobbying included tobacco companies, teachers' unions and hospital groups.

The commission publishes the 2013 data on its website.

It has also posted financial disclosure statements by New York's four statewide elected officials and state legislators, including the values of their investments and outside incomes.


Pa. doesn't make all drilling complaints public

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A paper reports that testimony in a lawsuit suggests that Pennsylvania regulators don't always publicly release records of shale gas pollution complaints.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Thursday that the testimony shows that the state Department of Environmental Protection doesn't always issue a violation notice or formal notice of contamination where shale gas energy companies reach private settlements with water well owners. The lawsuit was filed by municipalities who are challenging the constitutionality of the state's 2012 oil and gas law.

The Post-Gazette says DEP later sent 64 "clarifications and corrections" to the sworn testimony an oil and gas program manager made.

A DEP spokeswoman says non-criminal investigative records don't have to be made public even upon conclusion of an investigation, according to the state Right to Know Law.


Soldier from western NY among Fort Hood wounded

ALLEGANY, N.Y. (AP) — An Iraq War veteran from western New York is among the 16 people wounded during a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says in a statement Thursday that 32-year-old Maj. Patrick Miller was injured during Wednesday's attack. Three other people were killed before the gunman committed suicide.

Miller, who lives with his wife outside Austin, Texas, is a native of Allegany in Cattaraugus County.

Information on his condition hasn't been released, but a doctor at a Texas hospital treating some of the wounded says he doesn't expect any more deaths resulting from the shooting.

Miller graduated from his hometown college, St. Bonaventure University, in 2003, then joined the Army. He earned masters' degrees in business and public administration from Syracuse University in 2009.


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A consumer watchdog group says New York's largest auto insurers are using education level and occupation to set rates, charging blue collar workers more for the same policy than college educated professionals. Andy Morrison, a consumer advocate who worked on the report from the New York Public Interest Research Group, says the practice is unfair to minorities and low-income workers.


Ralph Wilson's widow takes team control

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Mary Wilson is taking over as the Buffalo Bills' controlling owner after the death last week of her husband, Ralph Wilson.

Ralph Wilson was the founder and only owner of the franchise. He died March 25 at the age of 95.

The team says "A process will be established at an appropriate time for the sale of the franchise."

The Bills also announced that CEO Russ Brandon, general manager Doug Whaley and coach Doug Marrone will remain in charge of football operations under the new ownership.

Ralph Wilson founded the Bills when the American Football League began play in 1960 and was a major factor in the merger of the AFL and NFL that was completed in 1970.

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